Celebrating Wildlife Heroes: Announcing Bird Conservation Award Winners

Wildlife Partners of the Year wiiners: Melissa Borde and Lenny Arkinstall release Brown Pelicans. Photo: International Bird Rescue

We are pleased to announce Bird Rescue’s inaugural class of Bird Conservation Award winners. Together, this year’s awardees help tell the story of two major wildlife crises in 2021 – the Nesting Seabird Rescue in Long Beach Harbor, and the Huntington Beach Pipeline Incident.

Our ability to respond effectively to these events depended on strong partnerships and our cadre of dedicated volunteers. While we offer special recognition to the following honorees, we are grateful to all those who work with us to rescue and rehabilitate wild birds.

Please join us virtually or in person on May 3 at Taking Flight and help celebrate these honorees. Reserve your spot

Alice Berkner Award – Volunteer of the Year

Toni Arkoosh Pinsky

Toni Arkoosh Pinsky: Toni has given her heart and soul to Bird Rescue since arriving as a clinic volunteer in 2015. In addition to her clinic hours, she has been a member of the Board of Directors for five years and currently serves as Chair. In 2021, Toni traveled from her home in Northern California on a moment’s notice to Los Angeles for the Nesting Seabird Rescue, where she supplemented clinic staff by assisting with care and hand-feeding of the hundreds of Elegant Tern chicks.

Wildlife Partners of the Year

Melissa Borde

Melissa Borde: Melissa is the Reserve Manager at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Orange County, California which provides important nesting habitat for both Elegant Terns and Snowy Plovers. Melissa put all her experience to work helping to make the rescue of the Elegant Tern chicks possible at the Long Beach Harbor response in the summer of 2021.


Lenny Arkinstall

Lenny Arkinstall: Lenny is the founder and CEO of the non-profit organization, Los Cerritos Wetlands Stewards, Inc. (LCWS). With the first signs of the emerging seabird crisis in Long Beach Harbor, Lenny sprang into action lending his boat and spending countless hours of his personal time on the water assisting with the rescue.

Civic Partners of the Year

San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory (SFBBO): Working from the East Bay of San Francisco Bay, SFBBO is a nonprofit dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats through science and outreach. In August of 2021, biologists from SFBBO brought three abandoned Snowy Plover eggs to our Northern California wildlife clinic. We were able to successfully hatch and raise the chicks, releasing them back to the wild with SFBBO. Three more chicks were rescued by SFBBO and brought to Bird Rescue for successful rehabilitation. The lessons learned through this effort helped inform the care provided to oiled Snowy Plovers later in the year with the Huntington Beach spill.

Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN): The OWCN provides readiness and response activities to oil spills. We recognize OWCN for their work in the Elegant Tern crisis. Generously stepping up to help even though no oil was involved, OWCN responded to the crisis in the harbor, lending a boat and a highly skilled team of professionals to help plan and implement rescue efforts for several weeks. Their assistance and ingenuity helped save thousands of chicks from hypothermia and drowning.

Get Your Taking Flight Tickets Today!

Join us for Taking Flight event on May 3, 2022 for an evening celebrating the mission of International Bird Rescue, and honoring those whose work has had an impact on the wildlife we love. Keynote speaker, Jane Kim, will speak with us about art, wonder, and the natural world, and she will create, in person, an original watercolor painting which will be available for auction that same night! Guests will enjoy “flights” of wine and beer tastings, and an Art in Flight silent auction featuring gorgeous avian artwork and photography. Early Bird tickets end on March 31, 2022.